Black Cats: The Soft Side of Halloween

Over the years black cats have secured a place amongst the most recognised symbols of Halloween amongst pumpkins, ghosts and rehashed versions of Dracula. They also provide inspiration for one of the easiest go-to costumes for a last minute party, though I’d advise using felt tip for whiskers with caution. But anyone who has turned up at someone’s door with ears from Poundland and a tail made from an old pair of tights will know all too well the response ‘but cats aren’t even scary, it’s Halloween! Make an effort’. Although black cats are one of my favourites, I can’t help but agree that they aren’t, or at least shouldn’t be, all that frightening to look at.

The unfortunate truth is that black cats don’t enjoy Halloween nearly as much as we do and that’s only partly because of the mini cape you bought them for the likes on Instagram. Each year they become injured or traumatised as a result of people who believe the myths and superstitions surrounding them. The risks of them being mistreated or even tortured are so high that many sanctuaries won’t allow black cats to be adopted during the month of October and owners are advised keep their furry friends in doors to protect them. Black cats are closely linked with witchcraft and were often believed to be ‘familiars’ that helped witches with spells, but I think we all know that they take way too many naps to hold down a job like that. The myth may have first started when women living alone (apparently witches) would welcome cats into their houses, probably the only company they could find that wouldn’t threaten to have them hung. Thankfully, these days living alone with cats only makes people question your social skills rather than your humanity, which is definitely the lesser of two evils.

As much as black cats are perceived to be the devil’s best friend, they’re also symbols of fortune, often found posing next to horseshoes and four leaf clovers on good luck cards. However, this does not seem to improve their overall prospects, as outside of Halloween black cats are still the least likely to be rehomed, many people choosing animals with ‘prettier’ patterns or colours as though they were looking for a new handbag rather than a life-long companion.

Give black cats some love this Halloween and appreciate them because of their history (and soft fur) rather than the threat they impose. Spoiler: there’s no threat, unless you pull their tail. Keep a look out for them this month and please spread the word that there’s nothing to be scared of. They’re as friendly and as loveable as all other cats, I assure you. And let’s try and keep the pet-sized bat wings and wizard’s hats to a minimum, though I’m sure your pets will forgive you if you give them tuna afterwards. So no need to rethink your Halloween ideals, because even though superstitions about witchcraft are so last century, black cats will always be in style.